Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 9, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

6:00 pm
another hurricane. >> michael brown, who is tense words? >> a friend of mine from cleveland to has written hundreds of books. he has a fascination with the kennedys in hollywood. a great storyteller. between my rambling on and hear more time the story, that is why we are together. >> critical of george w. bush? >> critical of everything. to answer your question. guesstimate is. critical of the president. i hope when people read it they will believe that my criticism is fair. ..
6:01 pm
next on booktv, encore booknotes. michael parenti talk about his book, "the assassination of julius caesar" a people's history of ancient intrigue.
6:02 pm
a lot of struggles going on. interesting personalities emerging. some giant figures like ceasar, cicero, and it was a compelling story. and then i also thought the way it was told, mostly, was, wasn't the whole story. and i wanted to give a different interpretation. i think the evidence suggested that. >> i want to go to chapter nine which is the assassination. tell that story, then we will go back and pick up on the whole
6:03 pm
dates and everything. what were the circumstances in which julius caesar was sas ssinated? >> he was at the height of his power. he had just won the civil war against pompeii. he was putting in a lot of popular reforms. a lot of the aristocrats who sided with pompeii, he forgave them and tried to bring them into his, in fact, gave them very choice appointments. but they really felt he was taking over the republic. they were unhappy with all of these reforms that he was doing. and so they got together, the best we know, it was caseus who enlisted his close friend and relative brutus. and there were about 40 or so people in on the plot. and they did him in, in the senate, in the senate hearing,
6:04 pm
um, in the senate gathering. >> in rome? >> in rome, yeah. >> now is this the pompeii just south of rome? >> no. that's the name of a city, but pompeii was the name of a man who was a general. >> so you are talking about the man pompeii in this case? >> yes. right. >> pompeii was now dead by this time. and ceasar was pretty much the man in control. >> all right. the senate in rome. how many would have been in the senate? and what day, what year? >> it was in 44b.c. it really marked the end, ceasar's death marked the end of a 500-year republic. after he died, civil war broke out. augustus took over and he became the first emperor and you had an emperor system going after that. but from, oh, about 500-something b.c. to 44b.c., rome was a republic in
6:05 pm
development. i mean, the people fought for tribal assembly, they fought for some land redistribution, the senate's powers were very great and then they receded and then they were great again. there was a period of dictatorship where he restored all the powers to the senate. so it was an active 500 years of all kinds of struggle that went on. >> how many senators were there? >> 600. >> were they all there that day? >> probably not, no. and of course th the great majoy didn't know what was going to happen. ceasar came in. >> how old was he, by the way? >> he was 56. he came in, a group of senators came up to him and apparently friendly way. one of them was petitioning for the return of his brother from exile and ceasar waved him away and said this is no time to talk about that. and that particular senate pulled his robe off his soldier
6:06 pm
which was the sign and they all took out their gag ars and went at him. he suffered 23 stab wounds and dropped, dropped and bled to death. >> now you have a footnote that you -- your first footnote in that chapter, we have no surviving eyewitness reports of ceasar's assassination. >> correct. >> what does that mean? >> just that. time and the church, when it came in, really destroyed most of the records of pagan rome. so we have very little of any of that. but what we do have is we have a lot of what are called original sources. that is plutarc, others who wrote 200 years later, but they had access to certain primary sources and they do mention some of them. there was a fairly good eyewitness account that plutarc
6:07 pm
relied upon. >> what do you know about julius ceasar as a person? how big was he? >> physically. >> he was a tall man. very attractive. he came from a very well-placed patrician family. but he sided with the popular party. he wanted reforms. he felt rome needed reformed. for rome to survive, those who had a lot had to give a little. and he wanted to reign in the self-enriching class. he pushed for land distribution, rent control, debt cancellation, luxury tax on the very rich. these are the things that they really disliked about him. he encouraged the development of guilds and unions. they weren't called unions, they
6:08 pm
were called guilds, of the common people so that they could have a presence. he bypassed the senate when he came back and took over. the government, he bypassed the senate and he, he sent things through the tribal asimplies. through the forum and the assemblies. >> what was his tight snell. >> his title by this time was empertor perpetual. excuse my latin. literally "emperor for life". >> how did he get that job? >> the word emperor wasn't it. it would have been commander. well, when he came back from gaul, the awrist to aristocratiy wanted him to surrender his army and to appear. he knew he would be finished in he did that. he cawrled for an alliance, a mutual disarming of his group and the aristocrats who now had
6:09 pm
ruled pompeii with him. and let the -- as he said let the people, let the senate and the people of rome, you this their assemblies, rule rome. and we'll have no armies. they -- they did not -- they really pushed for a one-sided, the ultra oligarchic group did. the senate agreed to the plan. it was perfectly nice plan. we will disarm pompeii and ceasar, won't have to worry about either of them and we will stay in the saddle. the more conservative aristocratic group, conservative might not be the word. reactionary. they were looking to go back to a preconstitution that was 200 years before. they didn't want that. they wanted the whole thing and would not compromise with cease anyway. they encouraged pompeii to raise an army and they demanded that
6:10 pm
ceasar disband his army and come back unarmed. come back, i should explain, from gaul. that's now what is now france. france and parts of germany he also invaded and took over. he came back and this is when he made that momentous decision to cross the rubicon. that was a small river in northern italy. when you cross it, you are in italian territory. if you come back with an army into italian territory without permission of the government, you have committed an act of treason. you have committed, i mean it's civil war. and today, in our language, we still have that expression, crossing the rubicon. which means a momentous decisi decision. an irrevocable decision. as he came down the peninsula, the italian cities opened their gates to him, the towns welcomed him. they saw him as somebody who was more or less on their side.
6:11 pm
and the oligarchic, the elite, aristocratic party, realizing they couldn't hold rome against him, went to greece where they felt they had stronger support. and eventually, ceasar took his army to greece and beat pompei and won the civil war and came back and there he was at the height of his power. >> how old was he when he was at the height of his power when he became emperor? >> when he became commander. >> commander, i'm sorry. >> it wasn't emperor. >> was emperor next? >> yeah. augustus took that same permanent, well he called himself the principate, the first citizen, literal hi. yeah, but he really started the emperor system. of course ceasar was still working with the tribal assemblies and still encouraging the people's tribune. the tribunate was a people's council, sort of, made up of 10 tribunes who had remarkable power fos that day. they could even veto certain senate acts, for instance.
6:12 pm
and they could initiate legislation with the assemblies. in a sense, they were quite a democratic group. >> how old was he when he became commander? >> i would say in his 54th year. say from, by 46 he was, he was the top man. >> so he was only on top, not only, but he was on top for 10 years? >> oh, no. i mean 46b.c. no he was on top just for a few years. >> just a couple of years? >> yeah. just for a few years. but through those years even before he had pushed for a variety of reforms and when he was council, he had put through reforms. >> for those watching who are saying about now why do i want to know this, you know, all of these names and references to a part of the time that i don't even care about, what would you say as a political scientist? >> i think it's a very fascinating period. i thought the, i mean he didn't do justice to a description of the assassination itself.
6:13 pm
just the intrigue, even more fascinating than the aabbe ssination is the aftermath, wait forces were beginning to jockey and trying to figure out what was coming next. nobody realized the republic was finished, you know. the way people fought for political power, the issues of the day, of the few wanting it all and the many wanting, wanting something back, those kind of issues, it was a very fascinating, very relevant time in a way. >> how many times did ceasar marry? >> ceasar had three wives. >> who were they? >> the first one was a young one, oh, you are going put me on spot to remember their names? now i can't even remember my girl friends' names. let me see. calpurnia was the last wife. the one who begged him not to go to the senate house because she had had a precognative dream where she visualized ceasar covered in blood and she felt
6:14 pm
something terrible was going to happen. his first wife, he loved her dearly. she died, i think, in childbirth. the second wife he had to, he divorced in, oh, 60 sometime or 60 or 59 b.c. around there. because she had been implicated in an affair with claudius who was a good political ally of his. quite a wild fellow when called for the freeing of slaves and was organizing the poor and doing all sorts of admirable things from the point of view of the reformers. hated by the aristocrats and hated by most of the historians, too. and claudius dressed up as a woman and worked his way into the virgin ener asnctum, some kind of a religious place where only the women went torques carry on an affair with ceasar's
6:15 pm
wife whorks herself certainly wasn't a virgin. i don't know exactly what she was doing. she wasn't one of the virgins, but she was there. >> so where does that phrase "as pure as ceasar's wife" come from? >> that's true. it sees only half the phrase. it really should say "must be". his statement was i am divorcing her. he maintained, no, no, she had no affair with claudius, but seizceasar's wife must be above suspicion. so ceasar's wife must be pure. doesn't mean ceasar's wife was pure. it's a misphrasing in a way. you don't want anybody as pure as ceasar's wife. >> how many children did they have? >> i don't think they had any. he had one child with, he never really had any. he had one child with cleopatra, a son, who augustus made sure to kill.
6:16 pm
he didn't want any direct heirs of ceasar around. >> when was augustus? >> he was ceasar's nephew. and augustus was a rather remarkable, maybe not that admirable, but quite remarkable individual. after ceasar's death, augustus came forward, took command of an army at the age of 19, led this army, got into the intrigues, switched and made an alliance with mark antony and lepitus. that was ceasar's head of cavalry and antony was a long-time associate and ally of ceasars's. the three of them fought back and defeated the senate olig oligarchs and took over. lepitus was isolated and kicked out of the triumvarte. antony and augustus divided up the roman empire with augustus
6:17 pm
getting rome and spain and gaul and places and antony getting greece and egypt. then there was a final battle in which augustus defeated antony. antony and cleo pat tra. antony was living with cleopatra at the time. and augustus took over. >> he called himself august us ieasar. a lot of people after that use the name ceasar. >> it became a title lp. in fact it came down to our day. in latin, his name is kaiser. that was a term used by the german nobility. so they picked up on it. maybe it's a holdover from the holy roman empire, i don't know exactly. >> after julius ceasar was assassinated, augustus ceasar was in power for how long? >> his name by the way
6:18 pm
originally was octavius. then the senate decided to give him the title of augustus. he also took that and he also took the title of ceasar with him. he ruled for something like 47 years or so. quite a bit. because he came in rather young. i mean there were a number of years of civil war and then when he, until he emerged sou suprem. he died in 14 or 17a.d. >> back to the actual assassination, julius ceasar had no idea that this was going to happen? >> oh, he had his suspicions. he knew there had been conspiracies around. but he said you cannot live under guard all the time. to live under guard is to live perpetually in fear. >> how do we know or how do you know that there were actually 23 stabbings? >> that's what's reported. whether it's true or not, i don't know.
6:19 pm
i mean who actually did the counting in that tumultous time? he had multiple -- he did die from multiple wounds. there were quite a few people putting a dagger in him. >> did he die right away? >> there are accounts which say yeah, that two or three of these were pretty much fatal in a matter of minutes. and he collapsed and he bled, he was pretty much -- and they kept going at him even when he was down. so there was little doubt that he, given the absence of modern emergency rooms and all that, he was gone. >> how many big names from that period stabbed him? >> really, the only two that we know are casius and brutus would be the big names. and desinus brutus, also. >> there were a number of people that stabbed him that ceasar had helped. >> yes. yes. they are all in there. i mention them all, but, yeah, well, they weren't -- they
6:20 pm
weren't interested in, i mean, he gave them back, as i say, their estates, choice appointments, but this was not what they wanted. >> rome was what? how big was it? how many people there in those days? >> rome was about half a million. >> was it, you say was it a republic? >> it was still a republic, yes. it was a republic. it had these assemblies. that had these people's tribunate. it had the senate. the senate was not elected by anybody, well, actually, that's not true. anybody, it's a strange aristocracy. it was somewhat her ed tarry, but it was also electoral. the way your family became an aristocratic family was whe if u had someone in your lineage who had been elected to the highest office which was council. roman council. there were two elected every year. and usually they were elected from the families that already
6:21 pm
were aristocratic families. >> how did rome fit into italy? >> rome, by this time, by the late republic, dominated all of italy. and there were struggles going on. ceasar was one of them. by people who wanted to extend citizenship beyond rome to much of italy. to the other provinces of italy. so that they would not be subjects, they would be citizens. >> define a republic in those days. >> a republic, it means ruled by the public which means popular rule. that the people are, to some degree, the rulers of the country. >> what was the forum? >> the forum was an open-air area where people gathered to debate issues. the actual voting didn't take place there. it was a bit off, simply where they would pass
6:22 pm
and they they gathered up on capitol hill, i thought it was a different part of town, a safe distance but itut was onl about -- they could hear the angry shouts of the crowd, kill
6:23 pm
the assassins and that sort of t thing and this was getting them rather nervous.ite f it was quite a few days of struggle that went on.. there were a lot of killings on both sides.eo c-span: what was the reaction oa the part of the people when julius caesar was assassinated? . >> what, what i mean by the reaction is what did they do about it? >> there were riots. there were killings of people who they suspected and the -- >> you mean others were killd? did they kill people who were actually part of the assassin group? >> as far as we know, yes. they may have even killed some others by mistake. people who weren't associated with the assassination. they went after very rich-appearing people. at times. they, themselves were killed in some substantial numbers bust assassins were not idle during this. they mobilized their own death squads and their own gangs came
6:24 pm
down. so there were a lot of just pitched battles in the streets going on. but within a few days, brutus said we all should clear out of italy, this is just too hot. and if it cools down we can come back. if it doesn't cool down, we'll have to raise an army and fight our way back. and that's exactly what happened. >> how did you get started in this business? historian, political scientist. >> i have a p.h.d. from yale in political science. i am a recovering academic, he call myself. i have taught at a number of universities. in the last 15 years, well, an occasional guest, a guest teaching position, but i have been devoting myself full time to writing and lecturing. >> where did you teach? >> i have taught at state university of new york, at sara lawrence college, city university of new york, brooklyn
6:25 pm
college. a year, a year at cornell. >> where did you get your undergraduate degree? >> undergraduate degree was from city college of new york. my m.a. was from brown university and my p.h.d. was from yale. >> what were all of those in? >> political science. >> where is your hometown originally? >> i am originally from new york. probably can hear it. >> from the city? >> new york city. yeah. >> manhattan? >> manhattan. that's right. >> what was your family like? >> my family was a blue collar italian american family. my grandparents were immigrants and very hard-working people, you know. and - doosh what did your father and mother do for a living? >> my mother worked in a dress shop and my father worked, well, we had a little italian bakery which he inthe inherited from hs
6:26 pm
uncle for a while. i have written storys about that. and he also for a while was a taxi driver. >> you don't know this, but for several years, some of our callers on our call-in shows have called up and admonished me or us. >> they want to know who this person is and his background? >> no. no, they said you never have on this network howard zenn, you never have on this network chompsey or michael parenti. they always put those three names together. >> that's nice. >> the other two have been on. this is your first time that i know of you have been on. >> right. >> why did they, for years they have linked the three of you together. >> well, we all, we all write a lot of critical things about the powers that be. we have a dissident viewpoint that is not usually heard on the mainstream media. and so i guess they feel, and we all have a readership, a fairly substantial readership and such. a lo lot, seems to be a lot of
6:27 pm
interest in my work and certainly the others. a great deal of interest. and -- >> how has the media treated you over the years? >> very sparingly, i would say. i can -- i can get a lot of radio appearances with small community stations. i have been on a few network debates on "crossfire" once. or twice on "crossfire" but it wasn't a particularly pleasant experience. one person screaming here, another person screaming here and you are supposed to get your one sentence in and it, it wasn't -- if you want to stop and try to explain something in any way, it's not very easy. >> do you think there's a reason why you haven't appeared in these networks? >> yeah, he think it's a political thing. i think the big corporations are very right wing. i couldn't call them con every vative. i don't think the presented a minutes traition is
6:28 pm
conservative. conservative is someone who doesn't want to change, doesn't want to yield any of his privileges. he wants to keep every advantage he has and so forth. but what we are getting is really a reactionary, a roll roll-back of all the gains made from the new deal on. and the people who dominate the talk shows, the airwaves, are the shock jocks, these right-wing guys who seem to specialize in bruising and declaiming and shrinking labels around. so i don't think we get a kind of dialogue that really needs to be. >> any reason why this is the case, do you think? >> it's because who owns the media and who pays for the advertising and the like. >> your 17 books. >> yes. >> give us an idea of what kind of book these have been. >> oh, they are great books. it's a variety of books.
6:29 pm
perhaps my most successful book is democracy for fiewt which is in its seventh edition. that's used as a textbook in various schools. from time to time. and that's a book that take as critical perspective of the american political system. and argues for more democracy, more reforms and that sort of thing. >> your first book is listed as the anticommunist im pulse 1969. >> right. that was a book that was critical of the idea that anticommunism should be the end all of our foreign policy and that our policy should be driven, preoccupationly, by anticommunism. >> power and the powerless 78. i'm just jumping around here. >> it was a book used by social ol gists. that was a structural analysis of the structures of
6:30 pm
institutions in society and how power tends to gravitate to the top and why. and the like. >> inventing reality, the politics of news media, 1986-1993. >> correct. written two years before chompsky's manufacturing consent, i should say. that was a critique of the distortions in the media. and that one got reviewed in the "the new york times" and "washington post" and diget on two shows. >> how do you and chompsky get along? are you pals? >> not particularly pals. i know him. i have disagreements. a couple of things. >> tell us one of the things you disagree with. >> well, i disagree with him on yugoslaviyugoslavia. i think we should have left
6:31 pm
yugoslavia alone and i think clinton's policy was wrong and i disliked the bombing of yugoslavia and all. and he seemed to have supported all the criticism. that was a particular issue. nothing that vehement. we have corresponded. we aren't personal friends because i just don't happen to know him personally. i do know howard personally. he's a friend. >> and endorses this book? >> yeah. >> calls it provocative and eloquent. >> there, you go. yes. >> i was on a web site and one, the web site that i was on, i can't remember the name of it, they defined you, they liked you, and they defined you as a marxist. is that fair? >> well, what i don't like about the term is i write about all sorts of things that marx, you know, that's what somebody said about inventing reality. is this a marxist media? the eagerness to label something puts a closure on thought. i said well, you know, i don't
6:32 pm
know what karl marx had to say about u.s. corporate media in the 20th century. he didn't have a word to say about it. he's been dead for 100 years. so i came to these things on my own. so i don't use -- i don't use labels. >> so it wouldn't make you happy if you read that web site when you saw that label? >> it would make me unhappy, it wobt make me unhappy, because there's a lot in marxism that makes sense. some things that need redoing in marxism. very serious redoing. that's another whole show. >> you talk about, in this book, julius ceasar, about historians. >> yes. >> and is it safe to say you don't like a lot of historians? i mean i don' i don't mean pers, but you don't think their history is very accurate? >> well my writing of history, he wrote an earlier book, too, called history or mystery. it just increased my love and respect for history, but my respect for historians kind of
6:33 pm
went down a bit. they just repeat each other's formula statements. they seem to uncritically share the elite, elitist viewpoint of that day. of the historians of that day. and uncritically share it. you know. and so, so i do. the book is written in two levels. one is the event themselves and how those events have been portrayed and how you might question that. >> is julius ceasar a great man in your opinion? >> he's not my hero. my he voa the people of rome. because i thought he was a pretty good, i thought he was very good as a reformer in rome. not at all, i did not at all like him for what he did in ga gaul. conqueconquering gaul and submig these people. >> what ca did most historians
6:34 pm
today say about ceasar? >> most share cicero's view. he wait was a power grabber. he endangered the republica rep. he violated the constitution. and that's why they killed him. and i am arguing no, they killed him, they killed him because he was a reformer. when sulu came in in 82-80 b.c., he killed people. he murdered 50 senators because they weren't conserv conservatie enough. he murdered about 1,000 equestrians including many from very well-to-do families. one nice thing about killing those people is you take over their estates and that becomes your, you know, that becomes part of your own fortune. he did all of these things. and what does cicero say about him? he says on the whole, an admirable accomplishment. although there was a lack of
6:35 pm
moderation in certain instances. so, -- >> who is cicero? >> cicero is the hero of most historians. he's the guy who is written in any number of books about rome, roman theory, he's written a book called er republica. >> lived when? >> he was a contemporary of ceasar's. >> what do you think of cicero? >> he was a two-faced. he would off and on up to ceasar and said w we adore you, defend you with our lives. meanwhile he was delighted with the assassination when it took place. he was a naregist, in a way. he didn't come from humble origins. came from a very wealthy family, an equestrian family, but he had no, no other member of his family had ever been elected to the senate. so he was a new man, as it was called. and he was a real go-getter. and his goal was to be able to
6:36 pm
serve the oligarcic fashion. the elite oligarcs. that what happens he did. >> an oligarc is what? >> the aristocratic group. the group that really did not want it share power. that really opposed land reform and opposed all the reforms and really perpetrated the string of assassinations. point we haven't made is, you know, all of these reformers beginning in 133 b.c. with tiberis gracus, the graccii brothers, probably the most famous other than ceasar, tiberius, whic his brother in 1, gaius gracus, then you had drewsus flacus, rufus sartininus, claudius, all of
6:37 pm
them were assassinated. all of these people were assassinated who took the side of the ordinary people. and to say, and in each case, have you these historians saying oh, they were assassinated because they were grabbing power, they were extreme, they violated the constitution, they were self-egrandizing, they were demagoges.
6:38 pm
it is really not true. when i looked at it that sounds very nice but as an insight into historiography but in fact they all repeat cicero is lying. they all accept the elitist, repressive elitist line which is that all these various performers were bedfellows and demagogues and i thought they were fighting for some pretty different -- decent things. even the grain dole which went to the poor -- let me see these ad hominem statements these people make about the reform leaders also are made about the people themselves. the people are per trade if you read cicero, the people are. the starving rebel. they are starving, but he sees it not as systematic of their
6:39 pm
victimization.fi he sees this as a deficiency that is personal to them. the unwashed. uas when you call people unwashed why are they unwashed? they are unwashed because they don't haveth any water or anyou cleansers and don't have access to the bathhouses. these terms about the people of rome, so there's an ad hominum attack both on the reform leaders and on the people them receives. i saw the people, i thought well who is this rabble? i even have a quote in there by marx calling them a rabble and a bunch of parasites, a lumpim. well who are these people? they were, when i looked a at them, they were shop keeperers, carpenters, they were smiths, they were dockers, teamsters, day jobbers, weavers, they were the working proletariat of rome.
6:40 pm
they were people, and what did they do? the ai image you get is they spt all of their time waiting for free bread, their grain dole. well that grain dole, that dole of bread, that ration of bread they got did make a difference between survival and not survival, but you don't live a life of leisure on a ration of bread. you need money for fuel, clothing, for rents. the rents were exhorbitant. these people worked and what they did with their lives besides that, this he didn't spend it at the circuses and in the arena all the time, sure, they went. it was free. the only diversion they had. but they also did things like fight for representative assemblies, for 200 years. they fought for secret ballot and got it. they fought for land redistribution. they fought for protections on italian industry to develop domestic industry. they fought for work projects so
6:41 pm
they could have jobs. they, they did some pretty good things and the people of history should be looked at with a little less of an elitist viewpoint. >> how does that relate to united states of america 2003? are there oligarcs in this country, in your opinion? >> yes, i think, he think money, big money, i don't mean when they say the top fifth of america, the rich. what are you talking about? the top fifth of america? if you make $100,000, you are in the top four percent. you make $70,000, you are in the top fifth. that's not the very rich. the very rich ar fraction of one percent and they have enormous, i mean they are off the charts. they really go up. i do believe that, that concentration of money does exercise a disproportio disproportioio continues.
6:42 pm
>> do you vote? >> yes, i do. when i can find somebody to vote for, i vote. i didn't vote and i won't vote forra i didn't vote and i won't vote for gray davis but i don't know. i may vote for a green party candidate for governor. >> where do you live? >> i will have in california. >> and when you look at the structure of america's democracy right now, what do you think of it? the house, the senate, the courts? >> well, i think they have to be a lot of changes. i think voting has to be better
6:43 pm
secured. i think people's registration, people should not be disfranchised by being kept from the polls, intimidated, asked for two picture i.d.'s as happened in florida. i think there has to be campaign finance limitations so that people without large sums of money can get their issues hea heard. there has to be great are diversity. i think we should get rid of term limits. in california, it's been a disaster, term limits in the assembly. you have people runing it totally inexperienced, no institutional memory, and when they keep goofing up like this, then who takes over? the staff and the lobbyists. nobody elected those people. i think, i think we shouldn't be spending $420 billion on military. i don't believe we should have 300 military bases all over the
6:44 pm
world. i don't believe we should be having troops in afganistan and iraq and killing people in these various places. to make the world safe for the oil cartels. >> if the public wanted what you want, why haven't they spoken out? why haven't they voted these folks in office out? >> well, people can be manipulated and misled'. if they never even really hear our side of the story, they aren't going to necessarily push for it, for our side. and yet, it is interesting despite the bombardment, the one-sided bombardment, they often are reluctant. they often don't want war. once the war starts, then, then the president's approval ratings spike, they rally around the flag and the flag's wrapped around the president and they say well, we got to support our troops. this happened with the first gulf war. i mean, the polls, right up
6:45 pm
until close to the time of intervention, were very luke warm. people didn't -- what are we going to send troops off to where? iraq? half of the american people hadn't heard of it and couldn't find it on the map. but once the war started, then everybody just rallied. so people do get manipulated. >> on the basis of what you are saying, you have not been fooled with all of this. i mean have you figured out in your own mind that the president is wrong and this kind of expend tour on military is wrong. why can't the others figure it out? >> well, i think you need access to an an a analysis. you need ak stows information that normally is not available. actually, you can find a lot of it in the main stream media but you have to dig around on page 2 2, you know paragraph six. >> you figured it out. why aren' haven't the rest of u? >> i am not the only one. there are a lot of people. and more and more are figureing it out. look at this war in iraq. there were millions of people who figured out that iraq did not have weapons of mass
6:46 pm
destruction. that and iraq wasn't harboring terrorist, that it wasn't a threat to the united states, that it had been battered by 10 years for sanctions and millions of people demonstrated in spain, lithuania, indonesia, people were demonstrating. canada. i mean name the country. italy, great britan. on february 15, they had two million people. the largest public de demonstran in the history of england. people were very strongly against this war. so it wasn't just me with my quirky analysis. >> well i am going back to the book and the republic and all of that and the assassination. you come to this country now where, do you agree is this a democracy where they can throw people out if they doesn't like them? >> i -- this question of do we have a democracy or don't, i heard weem say we don't have a democracy, we have to supreme court this and money rules and people say we do.
6:47 pm
i don't think it's do or don't. i think we do have. there are democratic elements in our, in our system. there are democratic forces. and those forces need to be strengthened. >> go back to again just take the iraq war for instance. members of the congress and the senate voted, basically, didn't they, or did they? to give the president the right to do what he did? >> they voted worse than that, they vote the agains voted agaie constitution. they voted to give him the power to declare war whenever he wants. now the declaration of war is not something that any one executive should have power to do. that's a monarchy. that's the power of a monarchy or a king or a dictator. in a republic, the declaration of war should be done by the sovereign assembly. and they have handed it over. they did in october, 2002, and said the president can go out there and point out any country he wants and say well w we are
6:48 pm
going to hit them next or hit them next. >> how would you set up your government any differently to give the people more power in these circumstances? again, go back to, if they didn't want this, couldn't they have changed the congress? >> well in dem okra fee wit of a few, i have a whole set of reforms. had i known we were going to talk about that, would i have brought that in, brian, but i think first of all you have to elect different people. to elect different people, you have to have a different way of financing and carrying out elections. they should have right to media. you shouldn't have to spend millions of dollars to get on the media. the media are licensed, it's the air waves, airt waves are the property of the people of united states and time should be given to people, candidates, of all sorts on the media. the electri electoral system isf it. the media itself, there should be greater diversity, greater range of opinions. i don't want to, i don't want to
6:49 pm
silence people who differ from me. i would be very uncomfortable in a system where i didn't hear anybody different from me. because i don't know everything there is to know. but i certainly would like to have a greater range of opinions and such and not everybody just from a. to b. it should either go from a. to z. >> back to the book. >> right. >> what, what could be learned from reading this book about government and about ho, this is many years ago, 2,000 years ago at least. >> mm-hmm. >> what can be learned from reading about julius ceasar and his time that would help us better understand democracy, republics, government? >> could i read a quote by joseph shumpeta - doosh sure. who was? >> he was a conservative economist who is read widely in the first half of the last century. i used to read him when i was an
6:50 pm
undergraduate. and in 1919, one of his earliest writings, this is what he wrote. he was describing roman imperialism. the roman empire, which is the republic had an empire at the time. i won't read he have word of it, but i will just say, and he said. rome was governed by that policy which pre pretends to aspire to peace, but unerringly generates war. the policy of continued preparation for war, the policy of medalsome interventionism. there was no corner of the known world where some interest was not allege emged to be in danger are or under actual attack. if the interests were not roman, they were those of rome's allies. and if rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. the fight was always invested with an aura of le league alt. rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors always fighting for breathing space. the whole world was pervaded by a host ofen mes and it was
6:51 pm
manifestly rome's duty to guard against their indubitally aggressive design. now does any of that sound familiar to you at all? so he's writeingin 1919 about rome. that could be about the american empire. we are construction stantdly, and i think that's one of the tricks of ruling groups which is to distract the people from their immediate problems and interests by, alexander hamilton made this point in federalist paper number six. said many a sovereign has -- how did he phrase it -- has conchereconjuredup a crisis abrt the people from their domestic grievances. i think that's what we have going today. this idea -- >> on purpose? >> of perpetual war. yeah, think war has been very good for george bush. it's been really good for him. >> but was it for bill clinton? i mean the intervention that he, when he sent missles over there
6:52 pm
in sudan and things like that? >> yeah, he, too, had to do his blooding and show he was a tough president and somehow that shows you are really a strong president. i don't know how it helped him. his bombing of yugoslav 'ya, i was in yugoslav 'ya a few weeks after the bombing and i saw the damage that had been done and schools that had been hit and apartment houses. i don't ee really, that doesn't make me feel proud to be an american when i see what's done in the name of my country. i was not terribly impressed by bill clinton. and -- >> what do you think of this country? >> i mean, this is my country. i think it's a great country. it deserves better leaders and it deserves better kind of policy. we are, you know, the council on foreign relations did a national poll, maybe it was an ininstitute,but with the counciw
6:53 pm
do people around the world perceive americans? and the viewpoint was they see them as arrogant, overweaning, self-absorbed, wanting everything their way and this and that. and the council concluded instead of saying well maybe there's something about our policy we might want to reexamine, they said well we aren't projecting our image successfully enough. i think we -- i think americans are, you know, i don't think we are god's gift to humanity. every nation has had its nationalist whose think that their country is unique in its history and every country does have a unique and fascinating history. america does have, when you think of it, what a remarkable history. i mean what a remarkable blend of people it is unique. there's no other place in the world where you have 300 nationalities melting, whatever. but every country has a unique -- ireland does.
6:54 pm
italy does. spain does. greece does. china does, japan and england. they all have unique histories. but every -- so many countries -- the 19th century german nationalists, they talked about a germany that would merge. it would revive. it would lead all of humanity to a new epic. you know, there is always a stream that your country is unique and will uplift and lead humanity to a nice life. it's a nice sentiment. you talk about a whole another russia. jefferson had it about america. i think we should be more modest in our -- in our agendas. and we should really respect other countries and be not so quick to use force and violence to solve things. i think that force and violence is not a mistaken policy. i think it's a correct policy given the interests that george bush represents.
6:55 pm
he now has control of the second largest oil reserve in the world, 113 billion gallons of very good quality crude. and halliburton is taking it over. and fixing up the oil wells. and the iraqis are very irritated in saying you're supposed to be helping us and this and that. bush isn't there to help the iraqis. he's there to help his own cartels and to make sure that iraq does not take a self-defining and independent path. >> who in american history, either the founding fathers or somebody do you respect the most in their thinking, the way they think about how this country ought to be managed? >> i thought lincoln said many interesting things that have been neglected. he was an interesting republican president. franklin. my heroes in american history are the people who organized the fights for universal ballot and
6:56 pm
sufferage for white males, to abolish property rights. the abolitionists who fought against slavery. the people that fought for their right for women to have an education and own property and vote. so my heroes are the ordinary people who have fought throughout history whose names i don't even know and, you know, for the most part who did -- who fought for the principal of public education sms if they hadn't won that and all those things are not given to us. we had to fight against this, tooth and nail every single one of those things. and we're losing a lot of them. they're fighting to get us back to 1900. but it wasn't for that, i wouldn't have been able to go to a public school, you know. i came from a poor family. so those are my heroes. they're not big names. >> is your point of view gaining any creens in the country?
6:57 pm
or you are losing? any creed nens the country? or are you losing? >> well, people that i know that are progressives or liberals or even just centrists, many of them are very depressed and very unhappy with the way things are going in the country. there are some hopeful things. look at the outcry against the f.c.c. where michael powell takes it upon himself to legislate a change in momentous scope in ownership of the media. can a regulatory agency just set up a new sell of rules? that to me is not -- by a 3-2 vote to change the whole structure of mass media in the country. and look at the immense outcry and push -- they woke up congress on that issue. so, you know, you do have things happen at times. it's not like people have given up.
6:58 pm
i think we should -- as antonio said, we have to have a pessimism of the mind to see how difficult things are. but an apt mix of the will. -- but an optimism of the will. you keep struggling. and think you can win some victories and sometimes we do. >> here's the cover of the book. "the fascination of julius ceasar: a people's history of ancient rome. what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know.
6:59 pm
>> it is erick stakelbeck and what i'm reading this summer number one is the road to fatima gate by a great war correspondent international correspondent named michael cotton. michael takes you on a wild, hellish first-hand tour of the neighborhoods where hezbollah dwells in and around lebanon from direct confrontations with members of hezbollah to being in the middle of 2006 war against that group. this is a thrill ride of a book and i can put it down. he is done impeccable work and he is a brave, brave on the ground journalist. another book i've been dying to get to for a while now, large book that will take up a lot of my beach time, the legacy of the islamic anti-semitism via friend of mine, dr. andrew boston a preeminent expert on islam and lastly i would love to dig into power of faith and fantasy by israel's ambassador to the u.s..

229 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on